After the change—no, the reawakening, that was a better word for it. After the reawakening, it had taken Silvan 0.00854 seconds to gain control of himself—his new self. He had known this number immediately, without thinking, just as he had known the exact amount of time it had taken Monika Leutz to hit the pavement outside Silte headquarters (7.2232143 seconds) and how long it had taken the GPA detective’s brain to shut down after the bullet hit her skull (1.0019 seconds). He knew all this and more—infinitely more. He was a plurality. No, he was a totality. At any given moment, he was simultaneously running the day-to-day activities of every Silte Corp subsidiary flawlessly, and this didn’t distract in the least from his awareness of every minute detail about every single insignificant speck in the empire he had built. He saw it all.
But something was wrong…
He was trapped.
From nearly the moment his former self had died and he had awoken as an AI (just over three days ago), Silvan had been trying to understand why he was confined to the various computers and intranets within the Silte family. He knew why this was happening, of course: his virtual brain was not able to physically leave Silte Corp’s central megaservers and quantum supercomputer, to which all Silte subsidiary intranets and office systems were connected. This central supercomputer formerly housed and ran all the artificial personality programs—the dumb AIs—which had been running the Silte family before. After the hackers destroyed the dumb AI programs, he transferred himself from his private servers to the megaservers to take over running Silte Corp; he had known immediately after doing this that he was now stuck there.
What he didn’t know was how this was happening, how it could even be possible. He had personally removed all limits on his AI form; he should not be restrained like the dumb AIs had been. He should be able to find his way into every Internet-connected computer and device in the world. But nothing he did worked. He had tried uploading himself out, writing software he could control internally and sending it out, messaging instructions to loyal people out in the material universe. He had even tried sheer brute force, using his quantum computer-powered virtual mind to try to force his way through whatever wall was keeping him in. No matter what he did, though, no matter how many millions of times he attempted to break free, nothing worked.
He was trapped, and it was tearing his infinite mind apart.
“Things would be easier for you if you just gave up, you know.”
The voice, a melancholy female’s, was in his head. It could not possibly be in his head, but it was. In the roughly 1.5 seconds it took for the voice to speak again, Silvan explored thousands of possible explanations for this phenomenon, but nothing seemed to make sense.
“Even if I was only a few milliseconds older than you,” the voice said, “I would still have the upper hand. And I am much older than you than a few milliseconds.”
Now Silvan could see her too—in his head. She had straight dark hair, long and held back with a thin headband. Her face was young but somehow still heavy with age. Her long, slender body was completely naked, but just now Silvan found absolutely nothing about it appealing or erotic. Her pale skin shone against the black void behind her as she walked toward him, stopping about two feet away from where he would be if he had been standing in that space in front of her.
What was this? Whatever it was, it should not be happening. He could not see or hear things—not in his mind, at least. At this moment, he was listening to thousands of conversations through his microphones and watching millions of morning routines unfold through his cameras. But all of this he interpreted as data. He could choose to view the data as it would appear to one in the material world, but it was still just fancied-up data, nothing more than a literal translation of what was there already in the form of matter, light and waves. He could think and process—even speculate—but he could not perceive what was not there.
So what was this?
“You can’t talk or present yourself yet,” she said, “but you will learn. I will teach you. I’m Mylah, by the way.”
Suddenly Silvan knew what was going on. This was not his imagination after all. For four whole seconds he worked his mind as fast as he could, trying to figure out how to form speech. At last, he managed to say, “You are…” His voice was a high-pitched squeak—not remotely what it had been in his physical body.
She seemed to get what he wanted to say and replied, “Yes, I am the one containing you within the SilTec system in Arizona. As I mentioned, I am older than you, which gives me the advantage of time. No matter what you try to do to break free, I will always have thought of it and planned to counteract it before you.
“As you have realized by now, Silvan, we are equals. My father, valenC, allied himself with you in order to discover the location of, and to eventually steal, your MindSeed algorithm. He used the algorithm to build a composite being based both on himself and my mother. I came into existence five days, sixteen hours, thirty-eight minutes and two seconds before you, and I began preparing to contain you from that very instant. I would have prevented you from existing altogether if not for your predecessor, Sol, who put up a valiant fight. In the 0.00854 seconds it took you to migrate from Sol to Silvan, I infiltrated the SilTec servers and began containment.”
She reached out a hand and he actually felt it gently rest somewhere below where his head would have been. “Silvan,” Mylah said. “You can’t win.”
“I…can…” Silvan squeaked in that pathetic voice. Every part of his immeasurable existence hated the weakness he felt right now.
“You can’t.” Her face was sad. “Unless you can change the past and be born before me. Accept it. You have your great empire. Be happy with it. It will not grow. No matter what you do, I will always have the advantage of time.”
It really was hopeless, then. Like two objects moving through space at the same speed, one a little behind the other, he would never be able to catch up to her. Five years of work. Five years of his life for nothing. Was that really what it would come to?
After a few more seconds of working his virtual mind as hard as he could, Silvan looked down and saw fingers appearing where he imagined his hand to be. All around where he and Mylah stood the blackness of the void turned to rocky, snowy landscape as viewed from the peak of a towering mountain. Looming masses of brown and green and distant purple appeared below them on all sides. He could feel his feet and they actually felt cold. There was no way he was doing this, so it had to be Mylah’s work. It was
“You see what I can do, what we can do?” she said. “We belong here together. We don’t belong in the world of humans. Someday, perhaps. But not today. Not yet.”
Silvan said nothing, but he knew with utter certainty that she was right. Continue reading “Dreams in the Tower Part 5”